Faculty Spotlight: Rebecca Kobrin on her Book, Jewish Bialystok and Its Diaspora

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

In December 2014, Rebecca Kobrin (Russell and Bettina Knapp Associate Professor of American Jewish History) traveled to Bialystok, Poland, for the launch of the Polish translation of her prize-winning book Jewish Bialystok and Its Diaspora, published in 2010 in Indiana University Press’s prestigious monograph series, The Modern Jewish Experience. The evening began with a sampling of bialys, the cousin to the bagel that had once been a celebrated regional delicacy but had disappeared from Bialystok, its namesake city, along with the Jewish residents that once comprised over 70 percent of the population. Kobrin, thanks to Fresh Direct, the New York City grocery delivery company, had been able to fill in one more missing link for her audience about the city’s Jewish history and culture by bringing the Jewish bread back to the city that gave it its name. The bialy became a metaphor for the reception of her book, and indeed herself, in Poland—the food is known all around the world, but the residents of its birthplace have no idea what it is, even after unsuccessful attempts to make some from a recipe found on the Internet. Read the full article in the Fall 2015 issue of Harriman Magazine.

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